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Stay due to Coronavirus

2020 was the strangest of years leaving us all rather shell shocked. However, news of the log awaited vaccines lifted our spirits for a short time until the arrival of a new variant of the virus. 2021 has plunged us again into a lockdown in England with similar steps being taken in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. What does all this mean to us in the property world?

In March, April and May 2020 we set out some of the restrictions placed on landlords and morgagees preventing, temporarily, eviction proceedings being commenced. With some exceptions (e.g. for trespassers and squatters), a property possession order could not be sought or enforced during the period from 27 March to 20 September, 2020. From then until, presently 28 March 2021 Part 55 of the Civil Procedure Rules (cpr) and, in particular, its Practice Direction 55C have been amended to introduce an ‘interim period’ during which proceedings can only be commenced if a ‘reactivation notice’ has first been served (details are within the cpr). This applies to both commercial and residential property in England.

In relation to privately rented residential property in England, after 29 August 2020 until at least 31 March 2021, a landlord must give a tenant at least six months’ notice requiring possession of the property or seeking a possession order under the Housing Act, 1988. If the tenant remains in possession after expiry of the notice, a landlord must issue court proceedings and obtain a possession order and subsequently, a warrant for possession which can be enforced by court bailiffs. Warrants cannot be so enforced prior to 21 February 2021.

In relation to all proceedings, courts will take into consideration the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the parties when considering applications for time extensions, adjournments and relief from sanctions (Practice Direction 51ZA to Part 51 of the cpr).

Throughout the pandemic, landlords and tenants should communicate with each other and reach agreements wherever possible.

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